The controversial son of Uganda’s veteran leader Yoweri Museveni for the first time Thursday publicly declared his ambition to become president of the East African country.
Observers have long considered that Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who recently became embroiled in a diplomatic spat with Kenya over a threat on Twitter to invade Nairobi, was being groomed for the top job.
“The only way I can repay my great mother is by being President of Uganda! And I shall definitely do it!!” the powerful 48-year-old general tweeted.
Although Kainerugaba has in the past denied claims he intends to succeed his 78-year-old father – one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders – he has enjoyed a rapid rise through Uganda’s army ranks.
After the social media row, Museveni had sought to rein in his wayward only son by telling him to stay off Twitter when it comes to affairs of state and to stick to subjects like sport.
But a defiant Kainerugaba has continued to post on a variety of issues, tweeting last week: “I am an adult and NO ONE will ban me from anything!”
Museveni had apologized to Kenya in early October after Kainerugaba, among other remarks, suggested it would take his troops two weeks to capture Nairobi.
Museveni nevertheless defended his son as a “very good general,” after promoting him to the rank despite stripping him of his role as leader of Uganda’s land forces.
To many Ugandans, Kainerugaba’s position as heir apparent has been obvious with his dizzying climb through the military, but the government has in the past taken a harsh line against anyone discussing the matter.
In 2013, police shut two independent newspapers and two radio stations for 10 days after they published a leaked confidential memo by a senior general alleging that Museveni was grooming Kainerugaba to succeed him.
Kainerugaba’s comments on sensitive foreign policy matters have often caused diplomatic headaches for Uganda.
His tweets in support of Tigrayan rebels in Ethiopia angered Addis Ababa, while his thoughts on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and last year’s coup in Guinea also raised eyebrows.